10 Ways to Speed Up Your iPhone

After you’ve had your iPhone for a while, you might find it runs significantly slower than it did when it was new. Apps don’t open as quickly, menus seem sluggish and typing on the virtual keyboard just isn’t as snappy and responsive as it used to be.

There are several reasons why this might be, some of them easy to fix, others a little trickier. So let’s take a look at the various ways you can give your iPhone a boost and have it running speedily and snappily again.

1 – Reboot Your iPhone

Let’s start with the easiest and least intrusive tip first; reboot your iPhone. If you’ve been running it for a while, simply turning it off and then turning it on again can put an extra spring in its step. To do so, press and hold the Sleep/wake button until you see the ‘Slide to power off’ screen, or press and hold the Side button and either Volume button on an iPhone with Face ID. When it appears, swipe the slider at the top of the screen to the right to switch off your iPhone. Then, press and hold the Sleep/ wake button or the Side button, along with either Volume button again, until the Apple logo appears in the middle of the screen. Your iPhone reboots, and you’re invited to input your passcode (Face ID and Touch ID won’t work immediately after a reboot). Do so, and you’re done.


2 – Update Your Software

Over time, updates are released for apps and the iOS operating system itself. These might add new features, but they also squash bugs, small errors in the software that can (among other things) make your iPhone run slower. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure you’re running the latest versions. To update iOS, go to Settings > General > Update and if there’s a new version of iOS available, tap the ‘Download and Install’ link to update. You might have to plug your iPhone into a charger; the operating system won’t update if you’re low on battery power. To update your iPhone’s apps, open the App Store app. If your Account icon in the top right corner is badged with a number, there are updates to install. Tap the icon and, from the next screen, you can tap ‘Update All’ to update everything at once, or an individual app’s Update button to do so one app at a time.

3 – Free Up Space

When your iPhone’s storage is almost full, it can slow down considerably. A great way to speed it up again is to delete apps and media you don’t use. It’s now easier than ever to manage your iPhone’s storage. Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and tap Manage Storage. At the top of the screen, you’re invited to use iCloud Photos, which uploads and stores your snaps and clips in the cloud, so they don’t take up room on your device. Enable this option if you wish. You can also erase photos from your Recently Deleted album here; the Photos app keeps deleted media for 30 days before erasing them, and the Recently Deleted album is where they’re stored.

Scroll through the iPhone Storage screen to see a list of your apps and the space they and their data take up. Tap one and you can then Offload or Delete it. Offloading an app removes the app itself, but not its settings and data, so you can download it again later and pick up where you left off. Deleting an app removes the app and all of its data. To delete photographs and video recordings from the Photos app, open Photos and tap the Photos tab in the bottom left corner. Tap Select in the top right and then tap all the photos and videos you want to dump, before tapping the Trash icon in the bottom right. They have now moved to the Recently Deleted album.

To remove them completely, and free up more space, tap Albums at the bottom of the screen, then scroll down and tap Recently Deleted. Tap Select again, tap the ones you want to erase, and then tap Delete. You can ‘recover’ photos and videos, that is, move them back to their respective albums, on this screen too, and there are also options to Delete All or Recover All.

To check on the songs and albums you have stored on your iPhone, go to Settings > Music and tap Downloaded Music. Delete an album or song by swiping it left and tapping Delete. If you bought it from the iTunes Store, you can redownload it for free later.

If you have shows and movies downloaded in your Apple TV app, you can delete them by opening the Apple TV app, tapping Library at the foot of the screen, and then tapping the Downloaded link. Tap Edit (top right), tap the tick box for every item you want to remove and then tap Delete (top right again) and confirm. Once again, if you bought these shows and movies from Apple, you can download again for free.

4 – Efficient Media Storage

Ever since iOS 11, the iPhone has options to save photos and videos taken in the Camera app in new, space-efficient file formats. Photographs can be saved as HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format), and videos in the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding, also called H.265) format. Go to Settings > Camera > Formats and make sure High Efficiency is ticked. Your media now takes up a lot less room. Please note this option is only available on the iPhone 7 or later; if your phone is an older model, it can’t use these high-efficiency formats.

5 – Check Battery Health

If your battery is near the end of its life, and not holding a charge like it used to, iOS can automatically slow your iPhone down to preserve its power. The only practical solution is to take your phone to the nearest Apple Store and have the battery replaced. It’s not too expensive and it does much to rejuvenate your iPhone. To check your current battery health, go to Settings > Battery and tap Battery Health. The entry ‘Maximum Capacity’ shows how full your battery is on a full charge. If this percentage is below 80%, it’s definitely time to get your battery changed. Make an appointment at your local Apple Store’s Genius Bar and discuss it.

6 – Turn Off Automatic Updates

Automatic updates of your apps and operating system are convenient, but they take up both processing and battery power and therefore slow down your iPhone. Most of the time you’ll hardly notice, but if your phone is running slowly, switching off Automatic Updates might help. Go to Settings > General > Software Updates > Automatic Update and switch it off if necessary. Then go to Settings > iTunes & App Store and turn off the Automatic downloads option for App Updates. The options for Music, Apps and Books & Audiobooks are for automatically downloading apps and media purchased on your other Apple devices. Turn them on or off as you wish.

7 – Background App Refresh and Location Services

Another setting you could turn off is Background App Refresh, which allows apps you have on your iPhone to refresh themselves in the background, without you doing so manually. It’s great for social media and news apps, which can update with the latest information and have it there for you next time you open them, but again it takes processing power and might slow down your iPhone, especially if it’s old. Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and make sure it’s off.

Your iPhone contains a built-in GPS that can pinpoint its location. This is useful in applications such as Maps and Find My, but if too many apps are taking this location information, it can drain resources, especially battery power. It isn’t a significant source of slow-down, but if your iPhone is running slowly, it’s still worth restricting which apps can access your location. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and reduce the number of apps listed as ‘always’ by tapping one and choosing another option.

8 – Lighten the Graphical Load

The latest releases of iOS feature graphical effects that look great on the screen, but take up processing power on your iPhone. Typically, this isn’t a problem, but if your phone is crawling along, reducing these graphical effects could speed it up a little. For example, when you look down at your home screen and tilt your phone, the wallpaper seems to be ‘behind’ the app icons, giving a sense of depth. This sort of thing is aesthetically appealing, but unnecessary in practical terms. To get rid of such effects, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Motion and switch on Reduce Motion. Transparency effects also consume processing power to no practical benefit. In Settings > General > Accessibility > Display & Text Size, turn on Reduce Transparency to lose things like graphical blurs and fades. It makes for a cleaner interface, which might be less visually appealing (though that’s a matter of opinion) but is definitely easier on the iPhone.

9 – Clean Up Safari

Another way of freeing up memory, and therefore lightening your iPhone’s load, is to delete Safari’s cookies and data. Go to Settings > Safari and tap the ‘Clear History and Website Data’ link. In the pop-up, tap ‘Clear History and Data’. You lose your browsing history, plus cookies that help speed things up when returning to a site, but your Safari app should run quicker and more smoothly.

10 – Buy a New iPhone

Finally, the nuclear option: If you’ve tried all these tips and your iPhone is still running sluggishly, it might be time to let it go. Nothing lasts forever, and it might be that your trusty smartphone is just too old and too worn to do what you want it to do. Shop around for a new one. If you buy directly from Apple, you can save a little on the cost of a new iPhone by trading in your old one. Go to https://www.apple.com/uk/ shop/trade-in to see how it works.

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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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